Superfoods: the boom of healthy nutrition
Body: As the concern for a healthy nutrition has increased among the population, the so-called superfoods, to which all kind of benefits are attributed to, have been introduced on the supermarket shelves, and in the diet of many people.
A superfood is a food that has a high level of nutrients essential for the body and contains few calories and no harmful substances. All nutritionists recommend including them in the diet, although there is no consensus on which are the superfoods or how many there are. Some of them captivate the consumer because they are exotic; others, however, were already consumed regularly without us being aware of all their advantages. Generally speaking, in order for a food to be considered a superfood it must be low in calories and have many of the following elements:
- Unsaturated fatty acids: they control the cholesterol levels, reinforce the immune system…
- Fiber: it accelerates the intestinal transit and prevents colon cancer.
- Phyto-composites: vegetal origin molecules, such as isoflavones, capable of preventing chronic diseases.
- Minerals, such as iron, phosphorous, calcium…
- Vitamins: A, essential for good eyesight, skin and bones; B, in all its varieties; C, which helps the immune system; E, a natural antioxidant; K, which favors blood clotting…
"Including superfoods in our diet will not achieve miracles but it will help us improve our health"
There are many more superfoods than we can think of, and incorporating them to the diet is easier than it might seem. We can choose among the newest ones or among the most common ones: what is important is to be constant when it comes to their consumption in order to take care of our long term physical condition, and to reject those that are damaging to our health. Next, we show you some examples, compiled in Smartfood Revolution:
5 emergent superfoods:
Quinoa: it comes from the Andes and it has been very fashionable in the West for the past few years. It contains 14 grams of proteins per 100 grams and is rich in essential amino acids such as lysine, which helps fixing calcium in the bones, and also helps forming antibodies and enzymes.
Soy: one of the oriental pillars of nutrition is soy, a legume very rich in proteins (36 grams per 100 grams) and cholesterol-free. It is proven that its consumption reduces the levels of cholesterol. It is rich in vitamins A, B and E, and in minerals such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, calcium and isoflavones which prevent some types of tumors, such as breast tumors. Soy beans, soy drink or tofu are some of the ways of consuming it.
Turmeric: considered sacred in some oriental cultures, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and has antitumor properties. It is also believed to prevent obesity and diabetes.
Linseed: linseed has an extraordinary concentration of omega 3; a single spoon of this nutrient is enough to cover the daily needs. It is also very rich in proteins and fiber: consuming two spoons daily, in salads or yogurts, prevents constipation very efficiently.
Kale: this type of cabbage, very similar to collard greens, has antioxidant properties and a high content of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and fiber. It also contains vitamins E, A, K and C, with the advantage that is very low cal.
5 everyday superfoods:
Olive oil: the quintessential superfood of the Mediterranean diet. It is very rich in vitamin E, polyphenols, oleic acid, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6). Several studies attribute to olive oil a reduction of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. If ingested moderately, it prevents overweight. The best way to consume it is raw.
Garlic: it prevents stomach and colon cancer because it slows down the proliferation of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. The best way to eat it is raw, in dressings, spread on bread… Its ideal complement, onion, also prevents ulcers and gastritis, since it has the same component, allicin.
Walnuts: eaten with moderation, since they are very caloric, they act almost as a natural vitamin supplement. Eight walnuts contain two grams of omega 3, which covers our daily needs of a fatty acid that is essential to protect our heart and arteries. It also helps preventing Alzheimer.
Eggplants: they contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant molecule that is present in the skin, and that we can also find in other superfoods, such as red cabbage, cherries, strawberries, red apples or plumbs. It also has considerable amounts of fiber and potassium, which help us control blood pressure.
Chocolate: it prevents ageing thanks to a molecule, quercetin, but the chocolate bar must have at least 70% of cocoa. It has great benefits for our heart: a couple of chocolate squares a day contribute to reduce blood pressure, improve blood elasticity and lower cholesterol. Since it has a lot of fat and sugars, the consumption must be moderate.
Including several or all these superfoods in our diet will not achieve miracles but it will help us improve our health. We must not forget other recommendations given by nutritionists and by organizations such as the World Health Organization, that will help balance our nutrition:
- Avoiding processed foods due to their high content in fats, sugars and salt.
- Eliminating sugary drinks.
- Limiting the consumption of red meat.
- Increasing the intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
- Drinking two litters of water a day.